Looking for advice regarding payment terms and invoicing
Thread poster: Rebecca Lyne

Rebecca Lyne
France
French to English
+ ...
Jun 10, 2008

Hello all,

It seems as though many clients, agencies in particular, seem to believe that their payment terms and conditions are those that matter most and not the payment terms of the translator.

So, can anyone share their advice for best invoicing practices? For example, do any of you require partial payment in advance from agencies or end-clients? Do any of you require credit cards as more sure way of receiving payment? Any other ideas?

Thanks!
Rebecca



[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2008-06-10 15:57]


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 03:57
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Very much according to client Jun 10, 2008

Of course it depends how high your demand is

If you can be picky you will choose only clients that pay within two weeks. But if you need more work you have to be patient.
I tried the credit card system and joined Visa in 2002, but none of my clients wanted to use it.
Advance payment should be required for unknown or otherwise dubious clients, but most of the time they will not use your services if you insist on it.

And like in every business we have to take into account a certain fraction of losses do to non-payment. Even the biggest banks calculate a few percent of losses. All we can do is keep this percentage small by carefully examination of new clients.

Regards
Heinrich


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Stuart Dowell  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 02:57
Member (2007)
Polish to English
+ ...
My advice - adapt to the market Jun 10, 2008

This may not be the kind of comment you were looking for but my advice would be that if clients have long payment terms then I suggest adjusting your own finances to account for that.

I mean that if on average you receive your money 2 months after sending your invoice, try to be 2 months ahead at least in your own budget by having a large cash surplus and not living month by month.

From reading other threads on similar topics I have the impression that many freelance colleagues still try to live according to the monthly salary cycle. You can often read comments such as

"my client wants to pay 2 months after invoicing but I have monthly bills to pay!"

By setting up in business as a self-employed translator we have entered a new territory where the old certanties of monthly salaries do not apply.

I think it is self-defeating to avoid clients with longer payment terms and thereby cut oneself off from attractive revenues.

We should respond to the market how it is and not how we would like it to be, although I don't mean that we should not try negotiate better conditions where possible.

When translators talk about start-up costs and cite expediture for computers, CAT tools, dictionaries etc, maybe a three month "float" should also be included in necessary expenditures.

Of course, whatever the payment term, proper procedures should be applied to send payment reminders, apply statutory interest where appropriate etc.


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Dinny  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 03:57
Italian to Danish
+ ...
The problem is not really the 2 months or the 30 days... Jun 10, 2008

If only the clients would stick to the agreed terms instead of paying weeks or even months after the due date there would be no problem at all.
But it often seems that although keeping the agreed deadline as far as delivery of the translation is concerned is a MUST in this business - the term "deadline" appears to turn into an abstract when the payment is due.
Personally, I just stop working for a client if the payments are not made exactly when due. I prefer concentrating on my good clients where I can almost predict by the minute when the due amount will appear on my bank account.

So, to Rebecca: Check new clients on the Blue Board and if you want to avoid spending time on chasing your money just work for the clients with a rating of 5.


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Ieva Englund
Sweden
Local time: 02:57
Member
Swedish to Latvian
+ ...
30 days Jun 10, 2008

I can understand that if a translator demands the invoice to be payed in two weeks or a week after the delivery of the translation, it can be difficult for a client. I send my invoices once or twice a month and we pay the translators once a month. It is impossible to satisfy all needs and to pay in 10 days, for example. It causes to much work and a system is needed when you have big amount of invoices to handle.

However, I think that 60 days of payment is far to much. Why should a translator give an agency so long trust? They probably have 30 days of payment themselves to their clients and earn additional interest while having your money in their bank. I have a customer who demands 60 days of payment, but I always issue my invoices with 30 days and send reminders after 30 days (which probably makes them crazy, but it works for me))

/Ieva


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:57
Flemish to English
+ ...
For the umpteenth time. Jun 10, 2008

The average 60 days is b.ll.cks. I apply the conditions stipulated in the E.U guideline transmitted into law in every E.U.country. It does not say that customers have to pay after 30 days, but if they pay after that term, that you are entitled to the intrest rate of the ECB. Sometimes it is better to contact a credit-collection agency after 30 days and a week and add the interest you are entitled too. You end up earning more. Conditions of doing business are negotiable.

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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 01:57
Dutch to English
+ ...
Wonders will never cease ... Jun 10, 2008

Williamson wrote:

The average 60 days is b.ll.cks.


... we agree on something


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
this is about payment terms, not invoicing Jun 10, 2008

rebeccalyne wrote:

Hello all,

It seems as though many clients, agencies in particular, seem to believe that their payment terms and conditions are those that matter most and not the payment terms of the translator.

So, can anyone share their advice for best invoicing practices? For example, do any of you require partial payment in advance from agencies or end-clients? Do any of you require credit cards as more sure way of receiving payment? Any other ideas?

Thanks!
Rebecca



Your title is misleading, as it seems to imply that the forum is about practicalities of invoicing, when in fact what it's about is payment, specifically, terms.

Is it possible to change it so that it reflects the reality better?

Thanks


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:57
English to German
+ ...
Good point... Jun 10, 2008


Your title is misleading, as it seems to imply that the forum is about practicalities of invoicing, when in fact what it's about is payment, specifically, terms.

...sorry for missing this one.

Is it possible to change it so that it reflects the reality better?

Done.
Best, Ralf


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Patricia Lane  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:57
French to English
+ ...
resource Jun 10, 2008

Rebecca,

You are in France. Have you looked at the SFT website (www.sft.fr)? Its recommended general terms and conditions are available for download - in French and in English - even for non-members...

Cheers,

Patricia


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Erzsébet Czopyk  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 02:57
Member (2006)
Russian to Hungarian
+ ...
Conditions are negotiable Jun 10, 2008

First of all, never agree with payment terms which you cannot accept in reality.
if you are sure you can perform the translation in good quality within the requested dealine - be brave. Ask your customer/agency - and be surprised when they will not refuse your requests.
For valuable translations any agency is able to pay within maximum 15 days, for urgent work - if needed, immeadiately. I am wondering why almost all of you agree on these crazy 2-months-terms. I think a wrong opinion is to be shy in the real beginning f any business. If I would be a freelancer, I would say to all my customer
"gentlemen, all my heart and knowledge are just for you, incl. my monthly bills too"


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The Misha
Local time: 20:57
Russian to English
+ ...
If you don't like it - just say no Jun 11, 2008

I returned to this translation business about two years ago - after a VEEEEERY long hiatus. And boy, did I hate what I saw! These days I grudgingly accept Net 30 as a necessary evil, but anything beyond this is a big no-no. Whenever a suitable job offers 45 or 60 days, I make a point of sending them an email stating that I am perfectly qualified but would have none of this 60 day nonsense. On one occasion, they knocked the payment term from 45 down to 30 days just for the asking. On most others, I did not get the job. So what? There's more to life than translating user manuals and divorce agreements.

A client (actually, my first after that long break) once delayed the payment by over two weeks from the agreed term feeding me the usual line about the check in the mail. I dropped them like a stone and never took any more jobs from them. They payed peanuts anyway.

Am I underemployed? Sure, but at least all the work I do is on the terms I can live with - my own terms. Otherwise, why be a freelancer?

By the way, my best client, a translator himself who occasionally outsources, pays right away, sometimes on the day I send the invoice.

My point here is that the more we say no, the better chance we have to one day see this goddamn industry change its ungrateful, crooked ways.

Cheers!


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:57
Flemish to English
+ ...
The payment terms of my caterer Jun 11, 2008

A bit off-topic perhaps: When I have a lot to do, I have a caterer deliver meals. That is cheaper than shopping, burning gas to cook, doing the dishes.
Because daily payment would be cumbersome, we agreed to pay end of month by bank-transfer. On his monthly invoice is written "immediate payment" meaning that you pay within two to three days. If you don't pay: no food delivered at your door.
If we were to pay like some in the translation world, after 60 days or more, we would have long been dead and buried (but then the invoices of the undertaker are also payable at 30 days)


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